Miami’s last big tunnel project took four years and $1 billion to complete. Musk told Miami Mayor Francis Suarez his Boring Co. tunnel plan would cost significantly less.
As optimism for South Florida’s rise as an innovation hub reached a fever pitch nationally, it was only a matter of time before Elon Musk joined the conversation.
Musk pitched a tunnel for electric vehicles beneath Brickell Avenue that could be completed in six months for $30 million on a phone call with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who’s personally welcomed many of the high-worth individuals and startup founders who migrated to the area in recent weeks.
“He’s focused on trying to deliver a project that will have the maximum utility for residents for the least amount of money,” Suarez said on a Feb. 5 video message on Twitter about the call.
Musk’s idea, which has not yet been filed with the city’s officials, presents a significant discount and time savings compared to South Florida’s last major tunnel project.
The PortMiami tunnel, which opened in 2014, took four years to construct with a $1 billion price tag. While Musk’s Boring Co. plan could “create a signature project not just for Miami, but for the world,” Suarez says, Florida’s geography presents unique challenges.
The rock beneath the land’s surface is mostly porous limestone. The holes typically found in Florida’s bedrock are filled with water and sand, which takes a two-step boring machine to not only cut through the rock, but also handle the pressure from the pockets of water, said Chris Hodgkins, CEO of the PortMiami Tunnel and senior adviser for Meridiam, the company behind another big transportation project in the region.
“The rock under our houses is not only hard, but it’s filled with water,” Hodgkins said. “That adds another layer of difficulty.”
What’s more, South Florida’s tunnels must be built for hurricanes. That means they need a means of being sealed completely so water doesn’t get in.
“When you build a tunnel, your entire asset is underground,” Hodgkins continued. “You need some sort of gate system to protect that asset, or else you’ll never be able to get it insured.”